Editor, The Courier:
Hello. My name is Christine Moore. My parents moved our family to Vinton County about 40 years ago. I love the quiet country setting and couldn't have picked a better place to raise my own children.
For the past 20 years, I have worked at Vinton County EMS. I love the job I do. I have seen many changes along the way. Some good and some bad.
Vinton County EMS has been getting a lot of negative feedback because we can't take some patients to their hospital of choice. We are an emergency service that covers the entire county from one centralized station. We have two trucks staffed 24 hours a day. At this time, we don't have any funds or staffing to have more crews available.
There are also times when we have an extended response time due to distance and road conditions. We try to get patients as quick as possible. We also need to get back into the county quickly after a run in case someone needs our services.
There have been many changes over the years with the way Medicare and insurance companies pay for patient transports. Most require transport to the closest and most appropriate facility, and if a hospital is passed up for a further one then the patient can be billed for the additional mileage. Our medical director also requires us to transport to the closest most appropriate facility, and this is written in our protocol.
Another reason for transporting to a closer hospital is there is only so much we as EMTs and paramedics are allowed to do in the back of squads. It is important to get our patients to a doctor as quickly as possible for stabilization. If we were to pass up one hospital for another and something would happen to the patient, then it is our license and jobs on the line.
I know there are some good people who prefer one hospital over another. I myself have had good and bad experiences at all our surrounding facilities. Most of the time it just depends on the situation and how busy the emergency rooms have been. We at Vinton County EMS are doing the best that we can with the resources we have. We care a great deal about our job and the county we live in.